Category Archives: World Building

Oldhammer Fiction Update and the History of the World

As mentioned previously I have been working on a short story named Holiday in Orkrania, that was an attempt at an Oldhammer themed piece of fiction – but without an official Warhammer setting.

This was going well, but unfortunately came unstuck a bit! Partly

because I hadn’t done enough world building and character development – one of my faults sometimes as a writer is that I get too enthusiastic and just plunge into things. So I have shelved the current story. However, I may come back to it and steal some ideas from it – for instance the character Arthur Shibly (nod to Peaky Blinders) is one I enjoyed writing, and I think there’s more mileage in the exiled Orc cheiftan, Grim Bearit. But first I want to invest a bit more into the world building – enough so that it’s recognizably Oldhammer in style, but also distinct from Warhammer’s Old World setting.

So where best to start than at the very beginning – with how the world came into being. Here’s my first draft of the world’s creation myth – I don’t even know what it’s called yet – this is definitely a rough draft/WIP.

One day the creator of all things was playing. He rolled together some clay between thumb and finger and began creating worlds. Most round so that they could happily roll

Ball with Cypro-Minoan 1 inscription. Clay, La...
Ball with Cypro-Minoan 1 inscription. Clay, Late Bronze (1600–1050 BC). From Enkomi, north-western Cyprus. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

around in space, some he sat on by mistake and became flat and physically impossible, but humorously wonderful, so he kept those as well. After a long day making the stars, planets and other paraphernalia of a universe, the Creator was done creating. But one of the planets he was not happy with. It was over big and there were to many bits dangling off it. Looking more closely he realised that already even in a blink of his eye, many millennia had gone past on the world already and it had developed a character and lore all of its own. The inhabitants even thought that they had their own gods and had made myths about their creation—beings from space and evil gods that brought chaos to their world.

The creator laughed. For there was no chaos, only the order of his will. Pity the mortals who did not understand this, but nevertheless it was true.

Looking more closely he was amused at the workings of the world. There many different creatures had evolved. They fought against each other, but there was humour and silliness there as well—and dare he even think it—fun! That made him pleased. It was even as if some other creators had shaped the workings of the world. But he knew that was impossible—he was the only Creator! He watched further, slowing down his own perceptions so that he could watch the goings on more carefully—for centuries he watched. He laughed and wondered at the titanic struggles, the daft names of the characters involved and their oh too fallible morality. But slowly, imperceptibly he noticed a change. The struggles on the world became more serious, more titanic. Winning at all costs was all that mattered to the protagonists who were like automatons set on achieving a result no matter the way it was played. He became bored. But then he remembered.

I am the Creator.

So he took hold of the world and putting it to his mouth he sucked out the fun of it and then blew that into a mold of another world that he had lying around baked from the very clay of the universe. And he created a new world. What happened to the old world he cared not any longer. The new world was his only concern.

The inhabitants of the new world were of similar races to the old world, but they never seemed to be able to take their lives too seriously. They were vain and proud, but fallible too—prone to error and ridiculousness. And the Creator was very happy.

The people of the world knew not their real origin, but they had some inkling of it—deep within them they knew that they were special and they made it their desire not to “spoil things” as they put it.

They told themselves that the world was the last created by the Creator because he had spent the most time on it and that they were held in special regard by him. All races, whether good or barbarous held the Creator in respect and deferred to him. He had after all made them. But they did not build temples to him or worship him—yet he was always in their minds and they hoped not to displease him. Whatever befell them was the system made by the Creator—whether sun, rain, famine or plenty.

They knew that the Creator was the source of certain special things in the world. His breath itself had given life to the world and breathed it full of magic. The breath of life and magic was everywhere and in some places and individuals it rose to the surface. The Creator’s children were those born from father, mother and the spirit of the Creator—and they were honoured by their societies.

The Creator had no wish to control any events on the world—he simply liked to watch. And like any voyeur he found it more interesting if there was conflict in the world. So he did not mind at all if those blessed with magic used their gifts for good or ill. Some set themselves up as demi-gods, and where their doings amused him he let them live as if immortal. And when he grew bored of them they would lose their immortality and die, or be mysteriously encased in ice, lava, mud or stone—put away for another day.

Some weaker peoples worshipped these demi-gods—although worship of them was fleeting. Always the Creator was the one that was in charge—above everything.

So uninhibited by unfounded beliefs and multitudes of false gods, progress thrived and the world changed. And again the Creator became ignored—this was not how he had wished the world to be—he did not want to see horseless carriages and flying machines—or long distance calls without the assistance of magic! So he created the forces of entropy—a freezing presence that spread from the poles of the world to slow down the rate of change and turn things back if necessary. Entropy was followed by those amongst the peoples as well and became the cause of some jolly good fights too!

Creating Fantasy Languages – my own attempts

In my last post on this blog I wrote about the difficulties of finding a suitable language for an Elvish culture and the pitfalls of copyright infringement. There was some good comments on a Facebook group I belong about the pros and cons of that and also in the comments section of the blog post as well.

So I thought some readers might be interested in how I have approached constructing fantasy languages or conlangs in the past.

The largest bit of world-building is to create a world called Ladmas and a continent called Neriador. This has gone through a few incarnations and in one form or another has provided the setting for my novel The Return of the Free, and also the short stories, Two Lives for the Sea God, Demon River and Forged in Blood.

Here’s a map of the latest version of the world – the place names have been created using the languages I created.

ladmas-currentI’ll just give details of one of the main languages for now and maybe post about some of the others in the future. The dominant culture of the continent is the Lurar.

Lurar Language background

Used in the countries around Sea of Akdeniz

Source of true Lurar language hotly disputed – each nation exhibits a variation on the language – spelling and pronunciation, but most cosmopolitan natives can understand other foreigners – backwoods would have more impenetrable accents though.

Language is fairly flexible and allows for complexity of meaning and subtleties – as benefits a language well used for trade, diplomacy, politics, thought and bureaucracy. However, also fairly static as developed early – resistance in some quarters to innovations. Some nations more open to outside influence – so Nukush has the tribal influence of the desert for instance.

Ironically the most pure form of Lurar is found in the 100 princes where due to the excessive degree of legalism, diplomatic treaty writing and cultural exchange the language has remained stable – also the common exile of different political parties to other countries has meant that this form of the language has often been exported. Freedom of thought – philosophy, poetry and drama has also been popular in the 100 princes so culturally the rest of the Lurar-speaking countries tend to follow their lead.

Lurar Vocabulary

I created a word list for basic things in Lurar, so for example:

cat gres
cattle mersh
charm beryok
chief meith
child shuiv
citizen konsh
city kon

And then used that to create place and personal names:

Lurar Place Names (just a few examples):

Name Meaning Notes
Luranivs People of beauty An original tribal name from 100 princes area
Arumlu Mountain land Country to north of Bachyanrik in mountains
Phaengep Meat market City name
Narkon Camp city City name
Lepakon City on the Lepad river City name
Turedkon Factory city City name
Vrekon Faith city City name

Lurar Personal Names (just a few examples):

Name Gender Meaning
Eut Male True
Euta Female True
Kainek Male Dedicated to Kainopeon
Aeva Female derived from star
Drol Male derived from servant
Drola Female derived from servant

Conclusion

Although I could have delved much deeper into creating a language, I think the process of creating a vocabulary that seems consistent gives the language a uniqueness and also something that seems like it could be real.

Using Elvish Languages in Fantasy Fiction

Elves as portrayed in the 1977 Rankin-Bass ver...
Elves as portrayed in the 1977 Rankin-Bass version of The Hobbit. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So if you want to include Elves in a work of Fantasy fiction that should be pretty simple right? I mean everyone knows how Elves speak – what kind of names they have etc – Elrond, Legolas, Galadriel – they all sound suitably, well, Elvish.

That’s the position I was in recently when contemplating writing a fantasy work including Elves, Dwarfs etc – the standard fantasy tropes – but with a twist of course. So wanting to be fairly thorough about my world building I decided I would need a naming system for people and places – a constructed language effectively. And therefore following on from that I naturally thought I should take a look at Quenya – the main Elvish language created by Tolkien – surely I could just use that as a basis and make up some cool and realistic sounding Elvish names.

But having read part of an online Quenya course (which is very good by the way and fascinating in itself), I realised that it wasn’t so simple. The author of the course includes a lengthy section on copyright, the main aim of which is to defend the right of people to publish courses such as his and also their own works in Quenya – not for profit even seems to be a bit controversial. The author of the course made the point that any commercial fictional work that used Quenya to create a naming system and language would effectively be in breach of Tolkien’s copyright.

That stopped me in my tracks – I hadn’t even considered that. So I looked into it a bit more – did other fantasy works with Elves really have their own unique languages. The main works are actually games – D&D and Warhammer – they both have their own languages – Elven and Eltharin respectively – although I suspect both are fairly superficial in nature. I looked a bit further and found that fictional works also had their own languages – for instance the Elvish language of Gael Baudino‘s Strands series is based on the Romance languages, and the Elvish languages of Andrzej Sapkowski‘s The Witcher saga, are apparently based on Welsh, Irish, French and English.

So it seems other authors and creators of Elvish cultures have also endeavoured to steer clear of using Quenya – a shame in a way as Tolkien created such a rich language – no one could do something more comprehensive I suspect for a race that doesn’t exist, but also you could also say it would be great to write fiction in Tolkien’s world, which also would be derivative and remain in the sphere of fan fiction.

So where does that leave my Elvish setting? Looking at creating a new language I suppose – and probably digging out a Conglang book such as the Language Construction Kit. However, I’m still planning on learning more about Quenya for the inspiration and also to make anything I create myself a bit richer.